Skeptical Textual Criticism

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Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:26 am

JW:
This will be the companion Thread to a new blog I am starting which will be devoted to Skeptical Textual Criticism. I see the current state of Textual criticism as overly informal on both sides due to under developed criteria. Believers tend to over emphasize External evidence while Skeptics emphasize The Difficult Reading Principle and minimize all other types of evidence without adequately explaining why.

The current book on the subject is:

Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism

by Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts (PP).

The first thing to consider is that PPs are Believers so Skeptical Buyer Beware as the clearest relationship known in Textual Criticism is the relationship between level of belief and Conclusion. To their credit PP lament in their introduction that the current and historical record of Textual Criticism is severely lacking in well defined criteria and methodology. So let's start with PP's identification and weighting of criteria. This can be found in their Kindle version starting at Location 2250 Chapter 8 Methodology (2) Weighing External Evidence


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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:32 pm

JW:
Starting with PP's discussion of External evidence, Location 2253:
External evidence deals with the manuscripts that support a given reading.
You would think just from this statement that PP is excluding the Patristic category from External evidence but they later clarify that "manuscripts" here includes the Patristic.

2264
In this and the following two chapters, we will outline a (not necessarily the) method for working through variant readings in an attempt to recover the original text of the NT based roughly on the reasoned eclecticism method laid out in the previous chapter.
To their credit PP indicate that the methodology they are presenting is just one possible methodology and they will not claim to have demonstrated explicitly that it is the best one.

2270
External evidence, most textual critics agree, should take priority in making text-critical judgments, because it is the most objective tangible evidence that we have for the textual history of the NT.
External evidence is more objective and objective evidence in general is superior to subjective evidence, but, objective versus subjective is only one criterion to weigh external and internal evidence so extrapolating that external evidence in general is superior to internal evidence is potentially an apologetic as all related criteria need to be considered as well as the relative weight of the external and internal evidence.

2285
Three such external criteria are discussed below: (a) date and text-type, (b) geographical distribution, and (c) genealogical relationship.
Here we have the main thing I am looking for, identification of what PP thinks are the main criteria, here, for External evidence. Keep in mind that PP sometimes is unclear regarding what they think are the most popular criteria and what they think should be the most popular. Their list:
  • 1) Date combined with Text-type

    2) Geographical distribution

    3) Genealogical relationship
2306
Besides the biblical manuscripts, we also have other Greek manuscript evidence that does not play a direct role in textual criticism but that we should at least recognize and take into account as appropriate. The most important of this evidence is some of the quotations found in some of the early church fathers
A surprising statement to make, even for Believers, as I think existing Textual Criticism often takes Patristic comment as individually weightier/much weightier than any individual manuscript.

Now that I've identified the criteria that PP claims are the common/proper criteria to use for External evidence the next step for a Skeptic is to evaluate them for properness and consider if there are other criteria which it would be proper to consider.


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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:50 am

JW:
Again, PP's criteria for External evidence:
  • 1) Date combined with Text-type

    2) Geographical distribution

    3) Genealogical relationship
All of these criteria are commonly used by Believers and Skeptics alike. Considering if they should be used:
  • 1) Date = measures distance between witness and original source.

    2) Text-type = considers the general parallel to a category of Texts that have been determined to be superior witnesses in general.

    3) Geographical distribution = considers the attribute of independent witness.

    4) Genealogical relationship = Similar to 2), considers the general parallel to groups of texts that have been determined to be superior witnesses in general.
I think the above would generally be considered to be good criteria for evaluating External evidence. But what other criteria for External evidence would/should be used by Skeptics/all Textual Critics?


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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:19 am

JW:
Again, PP's criteria for External evidence:
  • 1) Date

    2) Text-type

    3) Geographical distribution

    4) Genealogical relationship
What other criteria for External evidence would/should be used by Skeptics/all Textual Critics?

Possible models to use in considering other good criteria for External evidence would be:

1) Skeptical Textual Criticism - Since historical and existing Textual Criticism is dominated by Believers, Skeptical Textual Criticism is relatively undeveloped. In comparison, Skeptics give less weight to External evidence in toto.

2) The English legal system - Here is a methodology with a long history that is well defined. Important criteria in the English legal system that are not mentioned by PP are:
  • 1 - Credibility of source
    • A - General

      B - Specific - variation present?
    2 - Explanatory power
    • A - Direction (of change)

      B - Coordination/Consistency with other evidence
    3 - Applicability (to the Textual Criticism issue)
    • A - Scope of the evidence. Group versus individual reference.

      B - Directness. Explicit or implicit.
These are all good criteria for our legal system. Why wouldn't they be good criteria for Textual Criticism?



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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Thu Nov 24, 2016 9:50 am

JW:
Possible models to use in considering other good criteria for External evidence would be:

1) Skeptical Textual Criticism - Since historical and existing Textual Criticism is dominated by Believers, Skeptical Textual Criticism is relatively undeveloped. In comparison, Skeptics give less weight to External evidence in toto.

2) The English legal system - Here is a methodology with a long history that is well defined. Important criteria in the English legal system that are not mentioned by PP are:
  • 1 - Credibility of source
    • A - General = Considered in Traditional Textual Criticism (TTC) for Manuscripts (Age & Text type). Not generally considered for Patristics. Patristics that exhibit Textual Criticism outlook and critical thinking such as Origen, Eusebius and Jerome, should have more credibility (relative to Patristics). Others with more errors per line and more conclusion oriented like Irenaeus should have less.

      B - Specific - variation present? = For the Patristic that presents variation in witness, credibility is less for that specific issue.
    2 - Explanatory power
    • A - Direction (of change) = Considered by TTC for Internal evidence but not so much for External evidence even though it is the single most important question of Textual Criticism. When manuscripts/Patristics have extant evidence of editing/related indications this goes beyond "what" to "when", "how" and "why".

      B - Coordination/Consistency with other evidence = Again, TTC considers for Internal evidence, not so much for External. Does the specific "what" witness coordinate with the "what", "when", "how" and "why" witness of other categories of evidence.
    3 - Applicability (to the Textual Criticism issue)
    • A - Scope of the evidence. Group versus individual reference. For Patristics, witness with a context of Textual Criticism has exponentially more weight than witness without.

      B - Directness. Explicit or implicit. = TTC tends to round up or down with implications. Implications should be weighted in between Explicit and nothing.
These are all good criteria for our legal system. Why wouldn't they be good criteria for Textual Criticism?



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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:49 pm

JW:
In my review of Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism I pointed out that Skeptical Textual Criticism places more weight on Internal evidence than Traditional Textual Criticism does. An important component of Internal evidence is the specific context of the logically connected verses and general context of the writing and author in total. I find it interesting though that in a heavily disputed verse between Believers and Skeptics, Galatians 1:19, context is not given much thought by either, although the issue here is not a Textual Criticism one but interpretation.

Generally, Believers want 1:19 to be proof that Jesus existed and Skeptics do not. Yet I've never seen either side try to use the surrounding context to support their conclusion. Believers try to keep it simple thinking that any expanded discussion raises doubts about what the offending verse means. Skeptics are the ones who complicate here but the related complications mostly involve the offending verse.

I have faith that if the surrounding context is considered it will support the Believers. That Paul really is referring to the biological brother of Jesus. I think though that the context of Paul specifically here and for him in general supports being the biological brother of Jesus as a negative and this is why Believers and Skeptics alike avoid it. Believers want to avoid evidence that Paul was negative towards people who knew the historical Jesus and Skeptics want to avoid indirect evidence that there was a historical Jesus.

So, if you dare, let's try to take a look at the surrounding context of the offending verse. Does Paul build a rhetorical argument in general that physical is bad and spiritual is good or at least that spiritual is superior?

Galatians 1

Verse Physical Spiritual Contrast Superiority of Spiritual Commentary
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead), - - - - -
2 and all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: - - - - -
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, - - - - -
4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: - - - - -
5 to whom [be] the glory for ever and ever. Amen. - - - - -
6 I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; - - - - -
7 which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. - - - - -
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. - - - - -
9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. - - - - -
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. - - - - -
11 For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. - - - - -
12 For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through revelation of Jesus Christ. - - - - -
13 For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews` religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and made havoc of it: - - - - -
14 and I advanced in the Jews` religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. - - - - -
15 But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, [even] from my mother`s womb, and called me through his grace, - - - - -
16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: - - - - -
17 neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. - - - - -
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. - - - - -
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord`s brother. - - - - -
20 Now touching the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. - - - - -
21 Then I came unto the regions of Syria and Cilicia. - - - - -
22 And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: - - - - -
23 but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; - - - - -
24 and they glorified God in me. - - - - -


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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:12 pm

JoeWallack wrote:I have faith that if the surrounding context is considered it will support the Believers. That Paul really is referring to the biological brother of Jesus. I think though that the context of Paul specifically here and for him in general supports being the biological brother of Jesus as a negative and this is why Believers and Skeptics alike avoid it. Believers want to avoid evidence that Paul was negative towards people who knew the historical Jesus and Skeptics want to avoid indirect evidence that there was a historical Jesus.

So, if you dare, let's try to take a look at the surrounding context of the offending verse. Does Paul build a rhetorical argument in general that physical is bad and spiritual is good or at least that spiritual is superior?
Sounds very interesting. I am really looking forward to this.

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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:57 pm

JW:
So, if you dare, let's try to take a look at the surrounding context of the offending verse. Does Paul build a rhetorical argument in general that physical is bad and spiritual is good or at least that spiritual is superior?

Galatians 1

Verse Physical Spiritual Contrast Superiority of Spiritual Commentary
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead), Yes Yes Yes Yes (Implication) Sets the tomb of superiority of spiritual over physical with double negative and positive
2 and all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Yes Yes No No Use of physical term (brother) with spiritual meaning. Others are physically and spiritually with him.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, - - - - Continuation of doublets
4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: Yes Yes Yes Yes Maximum contrast with physical world evil and spiritual world good
5 to whom [be] the glory for ever and ever. Amen. - - - - Always a doublet
6 I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; No Yes Yes - Contrast is between the spiritual previously identified by Paul and an unidentified competition
7 which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Yes Yes Yes Yes The wording implies that Paul has physical competition and this competition asserts based on a physical connection to Jesus.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. Yes Yes No No The point is that it does not matter who says it or what they say. Evidence is not important. Faith is. Faith in what was originally preached by Paul.
9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. - - - - -
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. - - - - -
11 For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. - - - - -
12 For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through revelation of Jesus Christ. - - - - -
13 For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews` religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and made havoc of it: - - - - -
14 and I advanced in the Jews` religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. - - - - -
15 But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, [even] from my mother`s womb, and called me through his grace, - - - - -
16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: - - - - -
17 neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. - - - - -
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. - - - - -
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord`s brother. - - - - -
20 Now touching the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. - - - - -
21 Then I came unto the regions of Syria and Cilicia. - - - - -
22 And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: - - - - -
23 but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; - - - - -
24 and they glorified God in me. - - - - -


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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by robert j » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:31 am

About chapter 1 of Galatians ---
JoeWallack wrote:Verse
7 which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Commentary
The wording implies that Paul has physical competition and this competition asserts based on a physical connection to Jesus.
If I understand your statement correctly, it seems to me that you have made a giant flying leap without offering evidence and arguments to support your assertion/implication that the arguments of Paul’s competitors in Galatia were "based on a physical connection to Jesus."

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